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life sciences Accomplishments

Jun 20, 2017
Forty undergraduates recently were awarded scholarships through the office of undergraduate research's summer undergraduate research funding (OUR SURF) program. These scholarships support undergraduate research, scholarship, entrepreneurial, performance, or visual art projects in the summer months. A total of $39,000 in funding was contributed by the following 11 colleges/programs: Allied Health Sciences Community Health Sciences CSUN Engineering Fine Arts Honors Liberal Arts Nursing OUR-UNLV Provost's office Sciences A full list of recipients is available online. To learn more about their projects, attend the Summer Undergraduate Research Forum on Aug. 9.  

May 17, 2017
Donald Price (Life Sciences) is one of the authors of a scientific article titled "A Test for Gene Flow among Sympatric and Allopatric Hawaiian Picture-Winged Drosophila"   that recently was published in the Journal of Molecular Evolution.    

May 5, 2017
Michael Picker (Life Sciences) recently was awarded the 2017-18 Hermsen Fellowship by the Graduate College. The fellowship was established by a gift from Richard and Beverly Hermsen. This prestigious award is designated for outstanding doctoral students in the School of Life Sciences. Picker is pursuing a doctoral degree in biological sciences. Professor Helen Wing is his advisor.      

May 1, 2017
Nemanja Novakovic (Sciences and Honors) is the 2017 UNLV undergraduate recipient of the Regents' Scholar Award. The award is bestowed upon one undergraduate student from each NSHE institution for their academic achievements, leadership ability, and service contributions. Each honoree receives a $5,000 stipend. Novakovic is pursuing a double major in biochemistry and biological sciences, with an emphasis in cell and molecular biology. He’s conducted applied bioinformatics and HIV research in the Schiller laboratory and the UNLV Nevada Institute of Personalized Medicine, co-authoring three peer-reviewed publications in the process. He has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout his undergraduate studies and has received several prestigious Honors College and university scholarships and awards. He also has provided support and guidance to incoming undergraduate students as an Honors College Bennet Mentor.  

Mar 22, 2017
Elizabeth Stacy (Life Sciences) and colleagues, including Donald Price (Life Sciences), published "Incipient Ecological Speciation between Successional Varieties of a Dominant Tree Involves Intrinsic Postzygotic Isolating Barriers" in the journal Ecology and Evolution. This study demonstrates that partial intrinsic postzygotic barriers may be among the first isolating barriers to arise during speciation between large, hybridizing populations of a long-lived species.

Mar 9, 2017
Vivian Sam and Matt Rader (Life Sciences) were featured in "Study Breaks," a national undergrad write-up. Both are pursuing biology degrees with concentrations in ecology and evolution.

Feb 16, 2017
Dennis Bazylinski (Life Sciences) and a team of international researchers recently published a research article titled “Origin of Microbial Biomineralization and Magnetotaxis During the Archean” in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that shows magnetic navigation by swimming bacteria may be more ancient than previously thought. Bazylinski’s research team shows genomic evidence that magnetotaxis, the production of magnetosomes (intracellular magnetic crystals in certain bacteria) and the subsequent use of the Earth’s magnetic field for navigation, likely evolved in the Archean (a geologic era 4 to 2.5 billion years ago). It is during this period the Earth’s crust cooled and the continents formed, and before there was significant oxygen gas in the atmosphere — far earlier than previously thought. The team’s finding, the first that show data to support the conclusions, also suggest that magnetotactic bacteria may have been the first organisms to utilize the Earth’s geomagnetic field for navigation, but they may have also been the first biomineralizing organisms on Earth.  

Feb 15, 2017
Ai-Sun "Kelly" Tseng (Life Sciences) published an article, “Seeing the Future: Using Xenopus to Understand Eye Regeneration” in genesis: The Journal of Genetics and Development. Graduate student Cindy Kha’s images were selected for the journal cover illustration. This invited review article is part of of a special issue focusing on biological advances and emerging technologies using the frog, Xenopus, as a model organism.  Tseng’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms that enable animals to regrow organs and tissues with the goal of applying this knowledge toward developing regenerative therapeutics.

Jan 10, 2017
Frank van Breukelen (Life Sciences) received a four-year, $797,810 National Science Foundation grant to study hibernation in tenrecs. The current views about mammalian hibernation were developed using traditional models such as the ground squirrel. In these models, hibernators periodically rewarm to active levels between bouts of depressed metabolism. In this proposal, a unique model of hibernation will be used. Common tenrecs (Tenrec ecaudatus) originate from Madagascar and in contrast to all other known hibernators, do not periodically arouse from hibernation. Moreover, these mammals have a very variable active body temperature (Tb) which allows for direct comparison between active and hibernating tenrecs at the same body temperatures.  The proposed research will determine the extent and duration of metabolic savings associated with hibernation. Kidney function, protein synthesis, and protein degradation are normally depressed during hibernation. The proposed research will determine how kidney function, protein synthesis, and protein degradation are affected by temperature and hibernation status in the more variable tenrec. Outreach efforts will include development of a television program on hibernation.

Jan 5, 2017
Dennis Bazylinski (Life Sciences) and a team of researchers recently published a research article titled "Measuring Spectroscopy and Magnetism of Extracted and Intracellular Magnetosomes Using Soft X-ray Ptychography" in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Biomagnetism refers to phenomenon where living creatures, such as bacteria, algae, fish, and birds, can detect and use local magnetic fields to their advantage. The so-called magnetotactic bacteria are an ideal model for investigating biomagnetism. These organisms biomineralize membrane-bounded internal magnetic crystals (called magnetosomes), of either the magnetic minerals magnetite or greigite, that cause them to orient and swim along magnetic field lines. While many details of the biomineralization process are not well understood, it is clear that the process is under genetic control. Spectro-ptychography, which combines high spatial resolution and high sensitivity chemical speciation, is a new technique that offers a powerful probe for biomineralization studies. In this study, the use of spectro-ptychography demonstrated some new details regarding how magnetotactic bacteria biomineralize the mineral magnetite. This is the first report examining magnetotactic bacteria and magnetosomes using this form of spectro-ptychography. It is important to understand how magnetotactic bacteria biomineralize magnetosome crystals because nano-sized magnetic crystals have proven useful in numerous medical, scientific, and commercial applications.